Definition of an inguinal hernia repair surgery

An inguinal hernia happens when a part of the intestine bulges through a ring-like opening in the lower abdominal wall (belly area). Before birth, an opening in the lower belly wall allows testicles to move into the scrotum of boys. The same opening allows ligaments (connective tissues) to support the uterus in girls. In both cases the opening normally seals off before birth. If the opening does not close, an inguinal hernia may develop. This is the case for almost 2 out of every 100 babies. When children cough, strain or have a swollen belly, they can squeeze a part of the intestine though the opening to cause a hernia.


When can my child eat?
Your child may resume a normal diet after discharge from the hospital.

What should I do about nausea and vomiting?
Below are tips if your child has trouble with nausea and vomiting:

  • Let your child’s stomach rest for 30 minutes. Then, return to clear liquids. Clear liquids include Sprite®, apple juice or water.
  • When your child can keep clear liquids down, slowly work up to a normal diet.
  • Have your child lay down or sit quietly

If the vomiting is persistent or continues, call your child’s care team for next steps.

How will I know if my child is drinking enough?
Dehydration can occur. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of tears
  • Not urinating for 6-8 hours or small amount of dark colored urine. Your child should have 6-8 wet diapers per day.

If your child has these symptoms call your doctor or bring your child to the closest emergency room.


How can I tell if my child is in pain?
Your child’s care team wants your child to be comfortable, although no surgery is pain free. Some children can tell you about their pain. For all children, it is important to offer comfort and listen to their concerns.

Other ways children communicate they are in pain include:

  • Moaning
  • Whimpering
  • Making faces of pain
  • Crying
  • Irritability
  • Being inactive
  • Having no appetite
  • Not sleeping

How can I tell if my child needs pain medicine or other medicine?
If your child is experiencing pain, you can give them medicine. If it is not time for the medicine, try other ways to control pain such as:

  • Watching a favorite show
  • Ice packs
  • Play games

If these do not work, call your child’s care team to see if changes in the dose or type of medication are needed.

What medicines does my child need?
Acetaminophen alternating with Ibuprofen should be given every 4 hours for the first 24 hours after surgery. These are over the counter medications. Sometimes your doctor will want you to give ibuprofen every 8 hours. Please ask your child’s nurse. Your child does not need to be awakened to keep the dosing schedule.

In addition to over-the-counter medications, your child’s care team may prescribe a stronger medication may be prescribed as needed. If these medications do not help, call your child’s care team and ask to speak to the nurse. If you call outside of normal business hours, call MGfC at 617-726-2000 and ask the operator to page the pediatric urology resident on call.

Bandage/wound care

How should I care for the wound?
Usually the wound is closed with Steri-Strips™ (small white strips that help close the edges of the wound). They should fall off about 7-14 days after surgery. You can help remove them when they start to peel off.

How much drainage is normal?
It is normal to see swelling and bruising around the incision and in the scrotum. A small amount of drainage is also normal.

If the incision is dripping blood, apply pressure for 10-15 minutes with a soft, clean cloth and call your child’s care team for next steps. If you cannot stop the bleeding, take your child to the nearest emergency room.

When can I take the dressing off?
You may remove the outer dressing with the first bath after surgery.


When can my child take a bath or shower?
Your child can bathe 2 days after surgery. Place your son in a warm bathtub twice a day for several days. This will help with healing and swelling.


How active can my child be?
Below are tips on activity levels for your child:

  • Do not allow your child to straddle for 3 weeks after surgery.
  • Anesthesia can make your child feel groggy or sleepy. For the first the day, your child should not do any activities that require balance such as bike riding, playground equipment, scooters, etc. After this, your child can do normal activities safely and carefully.
  • If your child is using a prescription pain medication (such as Oxycodone, Lortab® or hydrocodone), they can become sleepy or dizzy. Watch your child to prevent them from falling.


What is normal behavior after surgery?
It is very normal to see behavior changes after surgery. Most changes in behavior only last a few days to 2 weeks. If they last longer than 3-4 weeks, call your child’s care team.

Some examples of changes include:

  • Regression (acting like a younger child, such as bedwetting or acting out)
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns, or nightmares. Being patient with your child will help reduce these changes. Comfort your child and help them feel safe. Understand that your child has been upset by surgery.

What to watch for

The incision usually swells and becomes red for about ½ inch around the edges. If you see redness, pus or persistent pain, call your child’s care team.

If you are concerned about the swelling and redness, call your child’s care team at 617-724-0327 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If the office is closed, please call MGfC at 617-726-2000. Ask the operator to page the pediatric urology resident on call.

Mild fevers after surgery are common. If the fever is above 102° Fahrenheit (38.8° C) for more than 24 hours after surgery, please call your child’s care team and speak to the nurse.

Whom to call

Please call Pediatric Urology at 617-724-0327 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If the office is closed, please call MGfC at 617-726-2000 and ask the operator to page the pediatric surgeon or pediatric urology resident on call.

If there is an emergency, go to the nearest emergency room.

Follow-up appointment

Please call your child’s care team at 617-724-0327 to make a follow-up appointment 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Special instructions

Go to the closest emergency room or call 911 if your child has any of the following signs:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive bleeding
  • If you cannot arouse or wake up your child

A note for when you are on the way home…

Observe your child during the ride home. They may sleep but their head and neck should not fall or slump forward. This may cause their airway to become blocked or cause difficulty with breathing. Your child should be in a child safety seat with proper restraints.

Rev. 7/2020. Mass General for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.